September 21, 2016

Why Map Churches?

Snip20160623_1I’m going to share with everyone about our four programs over the coming weeks, and I want to start with our church mapping initiative.

Why map churches?

In a city like Durham, churches are institutions that have a long-standing, invaluable stake in our neighborhoods. They are places of healing and hope, places to find community, places to organize, and places to know and grow deeper with God. In Northeast Central Durham, our first mapping neighborhood (we ultimately plan to map all of Durham), there are approximately 75 churches. There are not many other institutions that have the same presence and prominence in that community. So when we consider, “what are the assets in this community?” churches are an essential part.

That being said, many will say – including the churches themselves – that churches are not as engaged in healthy ways as they could and should be. Many prophets are reminding these churches of their call to “love your neighbor.”

But why aren’t they as involved? There are many reasons, but one is simply because of a breakdown in communication and relationships. We stay busy, but we have a hard time getting to know who our neighbors are, how to get in touch with them, or how to partner together.

The Church Mapping Initiative is an effort to inform, inspire and connect. We want to make the churches aware of each other and what’s going on in the community, and we want to help the community get in touch with the churches. The energy is there – we see the map as a light switch that can activate the energy and help mobilize the different groups to work together for the flourishing of their community. The map will be a bridge, and the DurhamCares team can facilitate those connections through gathering together, events, and other initiatives. And it will be more than just the name of the church and its address – it will include information about the churches’ stories and how they are engaged, and hope to be engaged, in their community.

But none of this work is possible without trusting relationships. When you’re on the ground in the community, you learn a lot more about what’s there than Google Maps or Yellow Pages can tell you. A lot more. Unlike mere data collectors, we have been intentionally learning the heartbeat of the churches and the community for years. Through these relationships, the map serves more as a roadmap for a journey together, rather than a mere product to be used.

Stay tuned – we hope to have the Northeast Central Durham map available by November!